Identify and follow your process with discipline to reach your goals

As we approach the end of 2021 amid economic unknowns — including labor resource issues, inflation and searing price increases of necessities — there are still plenty of opportunities to improve and achieve our objectives.

Questions I have been contemplating and discussing with peers and colleagues include, “What process changes are needed to achieve our goals? What habits and behaviors need to change to improve our team’s performance? What should our operating system be to meet our commitments in 2022?” James Clear, author of “Atomic Habits,” says,“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

Setting a goal is easy. However, we often fall into the trap of omitting carefully thought through steps to achieve that goal. Say, for example, you would like to lose 20 pounds. Unless you take specific steps, such as changing your diet or exercising in a disciplined fashion, you are not going to reach your goal. You must be extremely specific and thoughtful by asking questions that sharpen the process of achieving your goals — for example, what time of day should I exercise? How often? What type of exercise? For how long?

Process vs. goal

The idea of achieving goals by clearly identifying the underlying process steps is extremely critical. What is the difference between a process and a goal? Say you are a supervisor or manager. Your goal is to develop your employees, and, thus, help them to succeed. Your process is how you identify areas of development for them, create action plans and follow through on coaching and training. Identifying those process steps also helps in determining the correct short-term and long-term priorities.

Hence, your process is what you do to make your goal happen. Once a process has been established, a routine must follow. Even if scheduling issues come up, sticking to the routine in a disciplined manner will deliver the desired outcomes.

Jeff Haden, author of “The Motivation Myth,” declares, “Where your process is concerned, you don’t get to choose what you want to do. What matters is what you need to do to achieve your goal.” He says process steps must be extremely specific and advocates celebrating effort, even if you do not meet 100 percent of your goals. Celebrating success breeds motivation, which makes you work harder.

Roger Federer is one of the greatest living tennis players, known for winning finals. What is his process? Timothy Gallwey, author of “Inner Game,” calls it nonjudgment. The process involves becoming clear on what winning feels like and staying with that feeling without thinking negative thoughts about losing a match. Federer, a practitioner of mindfulness, is known for keeping his head still after he strikes the ball without worrying about the direction of the ball. The process of keeping his mind still has helped him become the second-most-winning tennis player of all time after Jimmy Connors.

It is said that high-achieving people tend to focus on activities that yield the most immediate results, as this area provides the most concrete evidence that they are making progress. Successful people focus on those efforts that require patience and discipline. Motivational speaker and entrepreneur Jim Rohn, famously said, “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”

Sanjay Singh is executive chairman of the board of directors of Mace Security International